An Inspiring Session: My Experience at HealtheVoices 2022
Last updated: December 2022
HealtheVoices is an annual conference that is put on by the HealtheVoices program. The goal of both the program and the conference is to connect online advocates from across various health conditions for an opportunity to learn, share and connect.
I've attended several different health conferences within my advocacy journey, and by far, HealtheVoices is one of the best. After the pains of the pandemic, the HealtheVoices '22 conference did not disappoint. There were many different sessions, all aimed at encompassing different chronic conditions.
I'd like to share insight from a specific session here as I felt it might inspire that who may be struggling in their psoriasis journey.
A lesson in resilience that I want to share with the psoriasis community
This particular session that I want to highlight was called “Using Setbacks to Catapult Success: How to Advocate the Brilliantly Resilient Way. The presenter was Kristen Smedley. She became an advocate for her 6-month-old son, who was diagnosed blind.
Kristen, like most of us, had dreams of what her future would look like. An amazing husband, a nice house and car, and the most adorable of children. I mean, come on, don’t we all have dreams like that? Those dreams, of course, were shattered when she was told her son was blind.
She, like most of us, brought on self-deprecation and self-remorse. When that didn't get her anywhere, she realized she had a choice. She decided that if she didn’t fight for her son to have an incredible life, who would? She came up with 4 questions that I think we in the psoriasis community could benefit from asking ourselves.
Are you holding on to what should be instead of what could be?
That hit me. When I was first diagnosed with psoriasis, I held on to what should be. I should not have to live with an incurable disease. I should have perfect children instead of worrying about something I may have genetically passed on. My skin should be perfect instead of this ugly rash that covers my body.
When I started embracing what could be, I found a purpose for my life that I would have never known without psoriasis. What could be is me sharing my story. It could mean meeting many wonderful people that I would have never known had I not had psoriasis that brought us all together. I had ideas of what my life should be but never thought about what it could be until psoriasis came along.
Are you just visiting, or are you going to live there?
Another question that hit me right between the eyes. I had lived a long time with the idea that my life was over. All I could see was psoriasis. I thought about how ugly it all was and how ugly it made me feel. When I finally decided I was only visiting and no longer would live there, I was able to find a peace in myself that I truly had never known.
I’m not the only one living with psoriasis. I can have a life. It might not be the kind of life everyone else has, but hey, I had always gone against the grain anyway.
What can you do?
I’m not saying this will work for everyone, but what I did was stop pitying myself and decided I needed support or to help someone else out that had psoriasis. I had to change my mindset and stop worrying about what others thought of me. I must live my life to the best of my ability. Not anyone else’s ability!!
Do you want to come through broken or brilliant?
I have made the conscious choice that I will come through brilliantly. My desire is that I show my children never to see someone because of their skin. I want to live a life that, in the end, people will say that psoriasis did not define her. She defined it.
I implore you to really think about these 4 questions and see how you can apply them in your own life. You do not have to let psoriasis define you.
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?